[ Moon Light ; Igor Medvedev ].........
In night invisible wishes
search for tokens fallen
from pocket sewn dreams.
Slightly such songs stir
with traces that hint
through frozen wonder,
blind to any bedfast
beyond where outskirt
winds swift away hours.
Dust snow, apparent
shadow, faint occurrence
at a loss for any new
moment. Just to notice
betwixt variant desires
is glass eyed sentience,
time laden groundswell
blunted alive while framed
in echoes yielding silence.
from Approaches to How They Behave
--W. S. Graham
What does it matter if the words
I choose, in the order I choose them in,
Go out into a silence I know
Nothing about, there to be let
In and entertained and charmed
Out of their master’s orders? And yet
I would like to see where they go
And how without me they behave.
Speaking is difficult and one tries
To be exact and yet not to
Exact the prime intention to death.
On the other hand the appearance of things
Must not be made to mean another
Thing. It is a kind of triumph
To see them and to put them down
As what they are. The inadequacy
Of the living, animal language drives
Us all to metaphor and an attempt
To organize the spaces we think
We have made occur between the words.
The bad word and the bad word and
The word which glamours me with some
Quick face it pulls to make me let
It leave me to go across
In roughly your direction, hates
To go out maybe so completely
On another silence not its own.
Before I know it they are out
Afloat in the head which freezes them.
Then I suppose I take the best
Away and leave the others arranged
Like floating bergs to sink a convoy.
One word says to its mate O
I do not think we go together
Are we doing any good here
Why do we find ourselves put down?
The mate pleased to be spoken to
Looks up from the line below
And says well that doubtful god
Who has us here is far from sure
How we on our own tickle the chin
Of the prince or the dame that lets us in.
The dark companion is a star
Very present like a dark poem
Far and unreadable just out
At the edge of this poem floating.
It is not more or less a dark
Companion poem to the poem.
More on W. S. Graham at POETRY. I was previously not familiar with him.
from The Constructed Space
--W. S. Graham
Meanwhile surely there must be something to say,
Maybe not suitable but at least happy
In a sense here between us two whoever
We are. Anyhow here we are and never
Before have we two faced each other who face
Each other now across this abstract scene
Stretching between us. This is a public space
Acheived against subjective odds and then
Mainly an obstacle to what I mean.
It is like that, remember. It is like that
Very often at the beginning till we are met
By some intention risen up out of nothing.
And even then we know what we are saying
Only when it is said and fixed and dead,
Or maybe, surely, of course we never know
What we have said, what lonely meanings are read
Into the space we make. And yet I say
This silence here for in it I might hear you....
How It Happens
--W. S. Merwin
The sky said I am watching
to see what you
can make out of nothing
I was looking up and I said
I thought you
were supposed to be doing that
the sky said Many
are clinging to that
I am giving you a chance
I was looking up and I said
I am the only chance I have
then the sky did not answer
and here we are
with our names for the days
the vast days that do not listen to us
A Message to Po Chu-I
--W. S. Merwin
In that tenth winter of your exile
the cold never letting go of you
and your hunger aching inside you
day and night while you heard the voices
out of the starving mouths around you
old ones and infants and animals
those curtains of bones swaying on stilts
and you heard the faint cries of the birds
searching in the frozen mud for something
to swallow and you watched the migrants
trapped in the cold the great geese growing
weaker by the day until their wings
could barely lift them above the ground
so that a gang of boys could catch one
in a net and drag him to market
to be cooked and it was then that you
saw him in his own exile and you
paid for him and kept him until he
could fly again and you let him go
but then where could he go in the world
of your time with its wars everywhere
and the soldiers hungry the fires lit
the knives out twelve hundred years ago
I have been wanting to let you know
the goose is well he is here with me
you would recognize the old migrant
he has been with me for a long time
and is in no hurry to leave here
the wars are bigger now than ever
greed has reached numbers that you would not
believe and I will not tell you what
is done to geese before they kill them
now we are melting the very poles
of the earth but I have never known
where he would go after he leaves me
The Bamboo by Li Ch’e Yun’s Window
--Po Chü-I (trans. Kenneth Rexroth)
Don’t cut it to make a flute.
Don’t trim it for a fishing
Pole. When the grass and flowers
Are all gone, it will be beautiful
Under the falling snow flakes.
Staying at Bamboo Lodge
--Po Chü-I (trans. James Cryer)
an evening sitting under
the eaves of the pines
at night sleeping
in Bamboo Lodge
the sky so clear you’d say
it was drugs
meditation so deep, thought
I’d gone home to the hills
but Clever can’t beat
and Quick won’t match
(you just can’t pave the Way)
the Gate of Mystery!
If asked which book jumps to mind first for what I read in 2017, answer would be Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Age of Reason. Not that I thought it was a perfect book. Far from it. The drama, while entertaining, was a bit too much. Over the top really and if written by anyone but Sartre, quite a few eyes would role. But in the end the histrionics helped to bring about the philosophical realization obtained by the central character. I guess. In the missing pages which could follow, one can suppose Mathieu then enjoyed long walks on beaches. At least up until WWII bombs started dropping. Sort of like what I now find on Monday evenings. No expectations. Too early in the week to look forward to much. An easy sleep. So unlike Saturdays when I busily attempt to make life more than what it really is. With the exception of a winter wreath on the front door and some white lights on the holly bush beside the steps, all the holiday décor in the house was taken down a few days ago. And after I vacuumed up the pine needles and sat down for a beer before dinner, the snowfall eased off and allowed sunlight to stream through a back room window and onto the wool rug in the front living room. My cat Chet found a place to sit to join in. I largely take the same approach to politics. Less can be more. I remember a Robert Thurman lecture where he spoke on how there will always be people blowing each other up. His shocking bluntness to match the absurdity of violence. Its prevalence as well. Any resolute action, really. What we throw out into existence comes right back at us. Why finding and nurturing personal freedom is not being apathetic, but rather an act of inner strength and if authentic, can be a moral example for betterment. When translated to artistic efforts, how close it resides to the eternal humdrum that surrounds truth, ‘human condition’ as it is known. When speaking of the universe, never do you hear of faults or errors. Things to be done. Instead, existence as it is is fully accepted. What would be the price to extend such an attitude down here on earth? The struggle for survival needs to be worked into the equation. Another Monday evening is coming, as it always will and no different from any other. Such is my resolution. Welcome, January 2018.